Screen Printing - How does it work?

by Jason Davenport on July 10, 2020

You need to order some shirts for an event and you need them screen printed, but what exactly goes into that?

First you'll either have to provide artwork or reach out to our in house graphic designer for a little help. (...or a lot, we don't judge.)

(If you're providing artwork we request vector files: .ai .eps .svg .pdf   ... if you don't have these file types just send the largest file you have)

Secondly we'll establish how many colors of ink and thus how many screens will be required to print your project. 

After you've got your artwork established we can help you order in apparel from our wholesalers, or we can decorate apparel you've bought elsewhere as long as it won't melt.

The reason I mentioned the whole not melting thing is because in order for screen printing ink to cure the freshly printed apparel has to be run through a heat tunnel. Picture one of those conveyer belt pizza ovens and you're pretty close. The ink on average has to top 350°F, which means the heat tunnel is cranking out around 700°F!! 

Once your apparel order has been finalized we get busy over here.

We print the artwork onto film one color at a time. The film is taken to our screen burning room where through very careful line up and with the use of photosensitive emulsion the image is "burned" into the screen creating a negative of your image. 

At that point the still solid-ish looking screen is taken to a rinse station where the uncured emulsion where your artwork is is gently sprayed out of the screen revealing your design.

After the screen has dried it's mounted into one of our presses (We have two, one pneumatic automatic, one manual) and lined up to the other colors if it's a multicolor print.

We print test after test until it's just right. No two jobs are the same, and the order of screens can change on the fly. Props to our screen printers for making magic happen!

Your apparel is stretched over a sticky pallet which spins around to the different screens so each color can more or less be stamped one over the other until your image is completed.

Once the image is completed the finished product is peeled off the sticky pallets and is set carefully on the conveyer belt to ride through the heat tunnel and be deposited into a cart. 

After all of your apparel has been printed it's brought into the office area to be sorted by size and folded into bulk batches or distributed to individual packages according to your needs.